Primary Fun Day

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Jun 08, 2010 8:38 AM
It’s arguably the biggest primary day of the year, with contests, in California, Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, and eight other states. Here are the big ones to watch.

CALIFORNIA SENATE
Keep an eye on incumbent Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who is bracing for a challenge from one of three main GOP primary candidates: Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, former Rep. Tom Campbell and state Assemblyman Chuck DeVore. Fiorina has a significant lead in the polls, and will take this one hands-down unless she splits the conservative vote with DeVore and allows Campbell to thread the needle. Carol, I wish you the best of luck in getting your guy to the finish line.

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR

Hasta la vista to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who is making his exit this November because of term limits. The race to replace him is phenomenally expensive, with Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of E-Bay, spending $80 million of mostly her own money to establish a significant lead over her only serious competitor, Steve Poizner. Poizner spend $25 million. The likely Democratic nominee is former governor Jerry Brown, 72, who seems to have traded his retirement dreams of a new convertible for a dream of holding the governors’ seat again.

NEVADA SENATE

Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid will find out who is taking him on today as the contentious GOP primary race comes to a close. Two candidates, former state party chair Sue Lowden and businessman Danny Tarkanian, were neck-and-neck until just weeks ago, when the third candidate, Sharon Angle, began polling ahead. Reid is rumored to be funding attack advertisements against Lowden and Tarkanian because he would rather run against Angle, but whoever comes out on top is going to face a massive $25 million campaign from Reid.

ARKANSAS SENATE
This race gives me a tingle up my leg. A runoff between Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has become expensive and polarized — their primary election was raucous, and this latest round of runoff-punches have only gotten more extreme. Lincoln has a real chance to lose her seat, which would make her the third incumbent this cycle to do so, and the primaries aren’t even halfway over. In addition to Lincoln, SEIU and former President Bill Clinton have a lot to lose here; unions poured $6 million into Halter’s campaign after Lincoln voted against card check legislation, and Bill Clinton has rushed to her dress. I mean, side.

SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR
Oh, former Gov. Mark Sanford. He's gone to Argentina, and we're tipping our hat to his likely replacement: the effervescent GOP nominee Nikki Haley. Her ascent in the polls has been phenomenal, and if she doesn’t win outright today (she needs more than 50% of the vote) she’ll win in a runoff. Sanford’s former press secretary and one other dude have accused Haley of having an affair, but Haley has kicked those accusations to the curb with her massive stilettos and flouted endorsements from both Sarah Palin and Jenny Sanford. Long live the queen.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Maine governor John Baldacci (D) is term-limited, and both the GOP and Democratic fields are open. In Iowa, look for a comeback from defeated Republican Gov. Terry Branstad (R), who wants another crack at sitting Democratic Gov. Chet Culver. In South Dakota, there is a clustered field of Republican candidates to replace Republican Gov. Mike Rounds. Harry Reid’s son, Rory, is likely to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in Nevada. That means Rory will face the winner of the Republican primary, most likely Republican Judge Brian Sandoval, who is expected to oust incumbant Republican Governor Jim Gibbons.

Margaritas for everyone!